January 2017

The Pass of Killiecrankie, Perthshire, Scotland

Some of Scotland’s most beautiful places are integrally linked with strife and bloodshed. Glencoe, arguably the most beautiful glen in Scotland, immediately comes to mind where a deplorable massacre occurred after the Jacobite uprising of 1689. That same uprising began at the Battle of Killiecrankie, where John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee and leader of the uprising, aka “Bluidy Clavers,” aka “Bonnie Dundee,” was shot and killed. Though the Jacobites won the day they were later defeated at the Battle of Dunkeld, another gorgeous place and one of my favorite small towns in Scotland. Perthshire has borne witness to much history, and the region has long been renown for its great natural beauty… Read more...

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Cuil-an-Duin Country House, Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland

In the heart of Perthshire, directly in the center of a triangle formed by the wonderful towns of Dunkeld, Pitlochry, and Aberfeldy, stands one of the region’s finest accommodations. I had the chance spend a trio of nights at Cuil-an-Duin Country House at the beginning of this past November, and as you will see it’s hard to ask for a better base from which to explore the glory of forested Perthshire.

This part of Scotland, being just north of the cities and on the main route deeper into the highlands, is filled with all types of excellent accommodations, from B&Bs to hotels to castles. It seems to me to be a difficult place to start… Read more...

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The road to Loch Tummel hangs upon the hillside like a poem upon the lip. There is the warmth of fire on the hills in autumn. Gold and orange, copper and bronze, sloping upon green cleaving deep into the blue. Here at the eastern edge of the loch, the Queen’s View, where the mind and heart exult in harmony. Lambs call the ewes by the shore while November wind pirouettes on the water and draws the eye ever westward to brooding Schiehallion, Rannoch Moor, and Glencoe. The Queen in question was not Victoria, as she had assumed, but Isabella, the wife of Robert the Bruce, who stared west in that bright age and marveled at what was possible.
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Tomatin Distillery, Inverness-shire, Scotland

One of my personal goals is to visit every malt whisky distillery in Scotland. That’s really just the first step, though. I don’t want to simply step foot in the visitor’s center and jet off, I want to have in-depth tours and tastings to glean the nuances of each establishment because Scottish single malt whisky is all about nuance. To wit, I’ve visited around 45 unique distilleries in Scotland, and several of those I’ve visited multiple times (places like Aberlour, Talisker, and Highland Park). I am continuing my quest today with an epistle from one of my more recent visits: Tomatin Distillery.

Tomatin is one of the easier distilleries to visit in Scotland. It lies just off the A9, the main road north into the highlands, about 25 miles south of Inverness, but this position, wedged between the western highlands, northern highlands, and Speyside, makes it somewhat hard to classify in terms of style. The Tomatin brand is quite familiar to me because I see it on store shelves everywhere here in the Midwest USA, but my experience with it amounted to a few micro-drams at whisky shows… Read more...

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